A Meta-Analytical Assessment of the Effect of Deontological Evaluations and Teleological Evaluations on Ethical Judgments/Intentions

Aimee Smith, Natalina Zlatevska, Rafi Chowdhury, Alex Belli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Deontological and teleological evaluations are widely utilized in the context of consumer decision-making. Despite their use, the differential effect of these distinct types of evaluations, and the conditions under which they hold, remains an unresolved issue. Thus, we conduct a meta-analysis of 316 effect sizes, from 53 research articles, to evaluate the extent to which deontological and teleological evaluations influence ethical judgments and intentions, and under what circumstances the influence occurs. The effect is explored across three categories of moderators: (1) contextual elements of the ethical issue, (2) stakeholders, and (3) methodological characteristics of primary studies. We find that the overall effect of deontological evaluations on ethical judgments and intentions is stronger than for teleological evaluations; however, the magnitude of the effect is contingent on several moderators. Deontological evaluations are weaker in offline consumer contexts and stronger when there are financial implications of the ethical issue. Conversely, the effect of teleological evaluations is relatively stable across ethical consumer contexts. Teleological evaluations are stronger from a utilitarian perspective than from an egoist one. Furthermore, the effect of deontological evaluations is weaker, but the effect for teleological evaluations is stronger, when the decision-maker has a personal relationship (as compared to an organizational relationship) with the victim of the unethical act. Findings validate the effect of both deontological and teleological evaluations on ethical judgments and intentions and highlight their importance in consumers’ ethical decision-making. Implications for developing programs to prevent consumer unethical behavior are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jan 2023


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